Though Georgette Heyer wrote dozens of historical novels, she only wrote one set in the Elizabethan period. Today, Regency romance author, Mary Moore, tells us why she enjoyed this novel, even though it is not set in our favorite period. In addition, she explains why this novel is unlikely to meet most publishers’ criteria for a romance in the twenty-first century. And yet, she found it quite the page-turner. Have you read Beauvallet? If so, do you agree with Mary? If you have not read it, will you now put it on your list of Heyer’s novels which must be read?
Everyone is welcome to share their views on Beauvallet, or any aspect of historical romance, in comments to this article.
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As an avid, some might say fanatical Georgette Heyer fan, I never really got into her historicals or mysteries. Except for one, Beauvallet. I read it midway through my Heyer experience and though it was not a Regency, I loved it. I realized when I signed up to tell what this book meant to me that I had only read it twice before. After reading it for this post, I remember why; you cannot forget it!
Unlike some of her other historicals, the setting is the backdrop, but just barely. It is set in Spain circa 1586 in the middle of the Spanish Inquisition but not yet to England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada. It is all there, the fear of being found a heretic and being burned at the stake, as well as all of the great Elizabethan seamen/privateers, Sir Frances Drake, Richard Dawkins, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, et al. Beauvallet even meets Don Juan while masquerading at the court of King Phillip II.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Sir Nicholas Beauvallet is a privateer to his beloved England and a pirate to France and Spain. His escapades are legendary and he has earned the name of "Mad Nick" from all three. It opens with him and his crew on The Venture attacking a Spanish galleon with grappling hooks flying and sword fights a plenty. I kept hearing the background music from every Errol Flynn movie I’d ever seen with Mad Nick even laughing in the face of danger as my beloved Errol did in the Seahawk and Captain Blood.
When the fighting is over and the smoke clears, Nicholas discovers a Spanish diplomat and his feisty daughter aboard the galleon. He takes them, along with his plunder, back to his own ship where he and the beautiful Doña Dominica de Rada y Silva give and take in as many shouting matches as will fit into the story. The devil in Mad Nick falls madly in love with the fiery Dominica. Too soon for many reviewers I read, but the torrid, long-distance feelings of the lovers is all that is needed to make the rest of the story more adventurous than we could handle!
Nicholas realizes Dominica’s father is dying, and showing his compassionate side, he takes them to a lonely Spanish cove, defying capture, to let him die in his homeland. But he promises Dominica that within one year, he will return for her and take her back to England to be his bride.
The rest of the story is so daring and fun that you get lost in Mad Nick’s outrageous flight across Spain disguised as someone else and with only his manservant, Joshua, by his side. This is hard to say because I’m all about the romance, but Ms. Heyer keeps you riveted and so on the edge of your seat that you really don’t care that Nicholas and Dominica have almost no scenes together.
In fact, he has more scenes with his manservant, who tickled my funny bone so often I laughed out loud.
"we rode like Jupiter, which happens to be a very potent planet in my affairs, except when the salt shaker fell towards me in an unlucky spill at that inn and such a happening could not be counted on as fortunate."
A fictional Beauvallet is dropped into a historical era with ease, humor and romance. That I noticed so many changes of POV to make an editor stab themselves on their quills, I had no trouble determining whose head she was in and no time to get bored with her love for history. And though we really never do get any depth into Nicholas or Dominica, it was enough. We had an adventurous opening, page turning exploits and a satisfying ending with lovers reunited. It was then possible to close the book cover with a heartfelt sigh. At least I did…..
Award winning author, Mary Moore, released her third Regency through Love Inspired Historical in January. She began writing in 1995, inspired by Georgette Heyer and other Regency writers, and was first published in 2011 after battling and beating breast cancer. She and her husband are natives of the Washington, DC area, but now live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia.
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